The Chinese government has announced plans to reduce the amount of soyabean meal in feed products as part of a larger plan to boost food security, World Grain reported.

Following a meeting held on 19 September, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs posted a notice on its website outlining the plan, according to the report.

“The demand for feed grains continues to grow, and the most prominent contradiction in food security lies in feed grains,” the ministry was quoted as saying.

“Soyabean meal reduction and substitution is not only a passive choice to deal with the uncertainty of external supply, but also an active action to implement the new development concept.”

However, the more complex task of stabilising the production and supply of animal products – and the increasingly tight resource and environmental constraints – would need more powerful measures to maximise the potential of soyabean meal and other feed grains, World Grain reported the ministry as saying.

In recent years, the ministry said it had introduced soyabean meal reduction and substitution action, focusing on “efficiency reduction and open-source substitution,” reducing soyabean meal consumption on the demand side and increasing the supply of alternative resources on the supply side, which it said had achieved good results.

The ministry said the proportion of soyabean meal in the feed consumed by the national aquaculture industry had dropped to 15.3% last year – a drop of 2.5% compared to 2017 – saving 11M tonnes of soyabean meal, equivalent to 14M tonnes of soyabeans.

China – the world’s largest soyabean importer – increased soyabean and soyabean meal production in recent years, according to the report.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) has forecast a record 75.2M tonnes of soyabean meal output in 2022-23, World Grain wrote, and expected a domestic soyabean crop of 18.4M tonnes, which also would be a record.

However, the country was still mostly dependant on soyabean imports for domestic use, and the FAS forecast Chinese soyabean imports would total 97M tonnes in 2022-23, which would be the third highest total recorded.